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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
James I and VI

King of Scotland from 1567 as James VI and of England and Ireland from 1603 as James I; son of *Mary Queen of Scots and of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley; married Anne of Denmark (1589).

He was only one when his mother was deposed and he was proclaimed king of Scotland. The regency and the early years of his own rule were dominated by the struggle between Catholics and Protestants. James himself inclined towards the Catholics but never so far as to alienate *Elizabeth I, whose throne he could expect to inherit; though only her first cousin twice removed (see the *royal house), he was nevertheless her nearest relation. He had established effective royal control over the rival factions in Scotland before the English throne became his in 1603, in the so-called *union of the crowns.

He is generally held to be the author of The Kingis Quair (the king's book), a long poem much influenced by Chaucer but in a northern dialect. It was discovered in 1783. The main link is its supposedly autobiographical content, being an account of a royal prisoner who falls in love with a beautiful woman whom he sees walking in the garden below. James was assassinated in 1437 and was succeeded by his son *James II (see the *royal house of Scotland).

In England both religious groups had hopes of him but both were disappointed. The *Puritans failed to win the reforms they wanted at the Hampton Court Conference of 1604 (an occasion of importance for the *Bible in English) and they suspected Catholic sympathies when James made peace with Spain in that same year. Yet it was Catholic hostility which lay behind the *Gunpowder Plot.

The greater tension of his reign in England was the battle with parliament, which was to dominate the first half of the 17C. James, rare among monarchs in being a writer, had published two books (The True Lawe of Free Monarchies 1598, Basilikon Doron 1599) in which he expounded the theory of the *divine right of kings. The response of serious-minded parliamentarians to such claims was not improved by a succession of handsome but otherwise unqualified young royal favourites – in particular Robert Carr (c.1590–1645) and the duke of *Buckingham. The antagonisms which brought to an end the reign and life of James's son, *Charles I, were already in place.

Modern attitudes to smoking have given a topicality to the king's best known work, A Counterblast to Tobacco (1604), in which he describes the habit as 'loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless'.

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